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The Witcher's Main Characters Ranked Worst To Best

Anyone who's searching for a top-shelf fantasy series obsession need look no further than Netflix's "The Witcher," which premiered the first half of its third season on June 29, 2023. Adapted from the book series by Andrzej Sapkowiski, it's a sprawling medieval epic filled with elves, sorcerers, knights, and princesses. It centers on the monster-hunting witcher Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill), the sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra), and their adoptive daughter, Crown Princess Ciri of Cintra (Freya Allan). 

Creator Lauren Schmidt Hissrich has woven an intricate narrative that bounces back and forth through time to reveal how these three came to be in the same place at the same time, and how their destinies are interwowen, while allowing her to populate the series with enough fascinating supporting characters to fill 10 different shows. Although nearly every character on the series is interesting and complex, that doesn't make them all necessarily likable. With "The Witcher" having returned for another monster-and-intrigue-filled season, here's our countdown of its main characters, ranked worst to best.

14. Duny, Emperor Emhyr var Emreis

Bart Edwards made his debut appearance as Duny — aka Emperor Emhyr var Emreis – in the first season episode "Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials." In that installment, Duny shows up at the betrothal ceremony of his secret lover, Princess Pavetta (Gaia Mondadori), to claim her for his own, only to be exposed as a half-man/half-porcupine creature. Pavetta's mother, Queen Calanthe (Jodhi May), hires the witcher Geralt to kill Duny, but he refuses. Geralt instead helps Duny fight against the Queen's guards, and Calanthe eventually agrees to honor Duny and Pavetta's request to marry. As is usually the case in fairy tales, a kiss from the beautiful princess transforms this beast into a handsome prince.

When Duny is thought to be dead, Geralt takes charge of his daughter, Princess Ciri. Duny re-emerges as Emperor Emhyr, and he's gone from being a porcupine-man to a jackass. Being a father doesn't make him empathetic to elfin leader Francesca Findabair (Mecia Simson), whose firstborn daughter he has murdered. When Francesca goes on a baby-killing revenge-spree, Emhyr orders her assassination. It's one of the things that make him simply the worst.

13. Sigismund Dijkstra

Considering he's appeared in "Outlander," "House of the Dragon," and "The Hobbit" trilogy, it would be shocking if Graham McTavish didn't have a role on "The Witcher." The hulking Scottish actor — who also voiced Deglan in the animated prequel film "The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf" – plays spymaster Sigismund Dijkstra, whose wit and cunning is matched only by his massive size. It's just too bad his skills are rarely used for good.

McTavish made his first appearance as Dijkstra in the Season 2 episode "Redanian Intelligence." In this installment, we learn that Dijkstra — as the title would suggest — is head of Redanian Intelligence for the court of King Vizimir (Ed Birch). He's a close ally of the shapeshifting sorceress Philippa Eilhart (Cassie Clare), with whom he's also romantically involved. Together, Sigismund and Philippa plot behind the King's back to seize the kingdom of Cintra. Later, he tries to get information on Cintra's Crown Princess Ciri by recruiting her elfin friend Dara (Wilson Mbomio) as a spy. It takes a truly heartless beast to turn a sweet little elf against his closest ally, but that's Sigismund for you.

12. Vilgefortz

To say that the powerful sorcerer Vilgefortz (Mahesh Jadu) goes through life with a chip on his shoulder is perhaps a bit of an understatement. Born to a prostitute and abandoned to die in the gutter, he was adopted by druids and trained in the dark arts at Ban Ard Academy. His drive to prove himself, combined with his magical skills and effortless charm, lead to his ascension amongst his fellow magicians. But there's a darkness lurking beneath Vilgefortz's pleasant exterior, one that reveals itself in surprising ways.

In "Before a Fall," Vilgefortz returns to Aretuza with his old sorceress pal, Yennefer, and proves to be an asset in fighting against the marauding Nilfgaardian army. He is elected leader of the Brotherhood of Sorcerers, and becomes romantically involved with the sorceress Tissaia (MyAnna Buring). But all that goodwill goes out the window when it's revealed that Vilgefortz is behind Princess Ciri's kidnapping at the hands of evil mage Rience (Sam Woolf). Given Ciri's potential ability to end the world, Vilgefortz wants to gain control of her for himself. Just when you thought you could really like a guy, he goes and shows his true colors.

11. Istredd

The romance between Yennefer and fellow sorcerer Istredd (Royce Pierreson) is filled with sex, lust, and betrayal, with a healthy dose of magic mixed in. We meet Istredd in the first season episode "Four Marks," in which Yennefer travels to Aretuza for some magic training and ends up falling in love along the way. Yennefer lets this handsome stranger in on her deepest, darkest secret: she's a quarter-elf, which has caused her to have a twisted spine and partial facial paralysis. 

Although he swears to keep her secret safe, Istredd reveals this to Stregobor (Lars Mikkelsen), who hired the young wizard to spy on Yennefer for him. Unbeknownst to Istredd, Yennefer has actually been hired by her magic mentor Tissaia to spy on him, making for quite the tangled web. Yennefer breaks things off when she discovers Istredd's betrayal, and undergoes an agonizing process of becoming beautiful at the cost of her fertility. There aren't many exes who might lead you to take such drastic steps post-breakup, but that just speaks to the kind of spell Istredd cast over Yennefer, and why he had a lot of making up to do afterwards.

10. Francesca Findabair

In the world of "The Witcher," elves are subjugated by their human overlords, and their self-appointed leader, Francesca Findabair, seeks to lift them out of oppression. When Francesca is introduced in the Season 2 episode "Kaer Morhen," she has a vision of the white-robed elfin prophet Ithlinne (Ann Firbank), who tells her it's her destiny to lead the elves to the kingdom of Dol Blathanna. She sets off with her partner, the elven King Filavandrel (Tom Canton), eventually wresting control of their people away from him. She further asserts her power by forming an alliance with the Nilgaardian army via the sorceress Fringilla (Mimi Ndiweni), allowing the elves to safely settle in the city of Cintra.

Francesca's magical powers allow her to become pregnant with the first pure-blood elfin child in many moons. Yet tragedy strikes when Francesca's newborn baby daughter is killed, sending her into a vengeful rage. The culprit is none other than Emperor Emhyr, and she decides to take her anger out on all the citizens of Redania, killing human babies in retribution for her own child's murder. Although this punishment might seem harsh — to say the least — you can hardly blame her for going on a "Death Wish"-style rampage to avenge her own child's murder.

9. Triss Merigold

You can't help but feel empathy for Triss Merigold, one of the most powerful and pure-hearted sorceresses in "The Witcher." As played by Anna Shaffer, Triss made her first appearance in "Betrayer Moon," in which Geralt is enlisted to capture a monster terrorizing the kingdom of Temeria. Triss, who's serving as the king's magical advisor, actually wants to save the monster, not kill it, and she convinces Geralt to do so. It doesn't take long for her to fall in love with the dashing witcher, and she offers to go to bed with him. But Geralt turns her down, which isn't surprising considering what a lone wolf he is. Still, it breaks our hearts when poor Triss's own heart is shattered.

That doesn't stop Triss from accepting Geralt's plea to help Princess Ciri hone her magical powers. She takes an instant liking to Ciri, acting as a sort of surrogate big sister to the young orphan. But Triss is horrified to discover her pupil has Elder blood, a potent pathogen that makes her highly dangerous and sought after. She unwisely reveals this to Tissaia, who in turn reveals it to Vilgefortz. Poor Triss: she just wanted to help Ciri and only ended up hurting her more.

8. Jaskier

You can't have a fantasy series without a traveling bard, and in "The Witcher," that role is filled by Joey Batey as Jaskier (or as he's known to his friends, Julian Alfred Pankratz, Viscount of Lettenhove). Jaskier provides the dark and gloomy show with occasional bursts of levity, even when he's giving Geralt a headache by constantly getting himself into trouble, whether by unleashing a mischievous Djinn or landing himself in prison. But as the series progresses, he proves himself to be a useful sidekick.

In the first season episode "Four Marks," Jaskier approaches Geralt while he's investigating a series of grain thefts, trying to earn a buck by singing tunes about mythical beasts. After Geralt tells Jaskier that the creatures in his songs don't exist, the two find themselves endangered by a real-life monster. They escape unscathed, and the grateful Jaskier becomes something of an unwanted sidekick to Geralt. He also falls in love with the beautiful Vespula (Beau Holland) and competes against a rival bard, Valdo Marx (Nathan Laryea). As bards go, he's not so bad to have around.

7. Dara

If there's one person in "The Witcher" who's in need of friends, it's Princess Ciri. Thankfully, she's got a pal in Dara, a young elf who helps her out of many a jam. In the first season episode "Four Marks," Ciri finds herself lost in the woods after her kingdom is attacked. Desperate for food, she almost eats some poisonous berries before Dara comes along and stops her. He leads her to a refugee camp, but doesn't speak for fear of revealing his elfin identity. When the camp is attacked by the Nilfgaardian army, Dara once again saves the day, and by that point he feels comfortable enough to reveal his pointy ears to Ciri.

Yet things get tricky for Dara when he's captured by Redania's head spymaster, Sigismund Dijkstra, who wants to use him as an informant. For a while he agrees, yet his friendship with Ciri and loyalty to his fellow elves help him find the courage to quit spying for good. In a show filled with backstabbers and double-crossers, it's encouraging to see there's still room for a few actual nice guys.

6. Tissaia de Vries

Perhaps no other character has meant more to the development of Yennefer than Tissaia de Vries, a powerful sorceress who transforms her in multiple ways. In "Four Marks," Yennefer's father sells his hunchbacked, quarter-elf daughter to Tissaia, who takes her to Aretuza for sorcery training. Tissaia shows off her own abilities early on when she transforms three students into eels who spread magic throughout the city, which is a lot more impressive than pulling a rabbit out of your hat.

Although not exactly a duck taking to water, Yennefer eventually learns how to harness her magic powers with her instructor's help. Unbeknownst to her, she's been recruited by Tissaia to spy on the sorcerer Istredd, who's also spying on her. When she discovers Istredd's deception, Yennefer asks Tissaia to cure her of her deformity, which unfortunately means she'll lose her fertility. It's a perfect encapsulation of the many ways Tissaia has both helped and hurt her pupil in almost equal measure.

5. Fringilla Vigo

One of the more interesting plot lines on "The Witcher" involves the diverging paths of sorceresses Yennefer and Fringilla Vigo. After training alongside each other at Aretuza, Yennefer becomes an advisor to King Virfuril of Aedirn while Fringilla is assigned to Nilfgaard. Working with the Nilgaardian "black knight" Cahir (Eamon Farren), Fringilla leads the search for Princess Ciri during the siege on Cintra. Yennefer, of course, becomes something of a surrogate mother to Ciri, which pits them against each other.

When Yennefer and Fringella are kidnapped by elves in the second season episode "Kaer Morhen," they find themselves at the mercy of their sorceress leader, Francesca Findabair. Fringella decides to form an elf/human alliance on behalf of Nilfgaard, which Yennefer balks at. Turns out this is all just a ploy for Fringella to further prove her loyalty to the kingdom she serves. Her quest for power leads her to even more drastic measures, including killing four White Flame generals in cold blood. Her ruthlessness makes her the kind of antagonist viewers love to hate, and you always understand her motives even if you don't agree with her methods.

4. Cahir Mawr Dyffryn aep Ceallach

Every fantasy series needs its black knight, and in the case of "The Witcher," that's Cahir Mawr Dyffryn aep Ceallach, menacingly played by Eamon Farren. In the show's first episode, "The End's Beginning," Cahir leads the Nilfgaardian army in its siege of Cintra. As the city burns, he captures Princess Ciri, but her powerful screams literally cause the ground the break around them, allowing her to escape. Never one to be deterred, Cahir tracks her to a refugee camp, but she's saved by the young elf Dara. 

Cahir eventually captures Ciri by hiring a doppler to shape-shift into the form of her grandmother Queen Calanthe's court advisor, Mousesack (Adam Levy). After dispensing with the real Mousesack, Cahir uses his assumed form as a way to get close to Ciri and Dara. His deception doesn't work for long, leading one to wonder if he really is that good at his job. Ciri's father, Emperor Emhyr, eventually grows so frustrated that he demotes Cahir to a patrolman, where he strikes up a fateful friendship with the soldier Gallatin (Robbie Amell). It's a testament to how popular Cahir has become that when Gallatin is executed, we actually feel bad for the former black knight, who's revealed a few interesting shades of gray.

3. Yennefer of Vengerberg

Perhaps no other character on "The Witcher" has undergone as dramatic a transformation at Yennefer of Venerberg, played by Anya Chalotra. When we first meet her, she's encumbered with a crooked spine and abandoned by her father, who's ashamed of having passed down his half-elfin blood to her. She's adopted by the sorceress Tissaia, who takes her to Aretuza and trains her in the ways of magic. While in training, Yennefer falls in love with the handsome sorcerer Istredd, only to find out he's been hired to spy on her. A heartbroken Yennefer begs Tissaia to straighten her spine and grant her great beauty, which comes at the cost of her fertility.

Yennefer eventually crosses paths with Geralt and his adopted daughter, Princess Ciri. While helping Ciri hone her magic powers, Yennefer becomes something of a surrogate mother to her, and falls madly in love with Geralt. Yet she betrays them both when she temporarily loses her powers and desperately tries to gain them back by giving Ciri to the Deathless Mother. Ultimately she doesn't follow through with this, and considering everything Yennefer has gone through to gain love and acceptance, fans were more than willing to give her a pass when she sought forgiveness from her found family.

2. Ciri of Cintra

So much of the plot of "The Witcher" revolves around the character of Ciri, aka Princess Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon of Cintra. It seems everyone wants Ciri for their own reasons, which makes it all the more difficult for her surrogate parents — the witcher Geralt and the sorceress Yennefer — to protect her. Yet the young princess has kept herself out of danger through her own wit, cunning, and strength, which she's developed thanks to training by Geralt and Yennefer.

The granddaughter of Queen Calanthe and the daughter of Duny and Princess Pavetta, Ciri is the rightful heir to the throne of Cintra. She's also imbued with magical powers due to a healthy amount of Elder blood coursing through her veins. According to Ithlinne's prophecy, Ciri could bring about the end of humanity, which makes her a hot commodity for anyone who wants to either prevent that or help kickstart it. So after her kingdom is burned down by the invading Nilfgaardian army, young Ciri finds herself constantly evading various forces that want to capture her, and viewers are rooting for her to retake her rightful place atop the throne.

1. Geralt of Rivia

When it comes to picking the single best character on "The Witcher," you'd be hard-pressed to choose anyone other than the Witcher himself. This series lives or dies on the portrayal of its main character, and at least so far, it's done right by Geralt of Rivia. Whether or not that will continue remains to be seen. As fans well know, Henry Cavill is hanging up his armor for good at the end of Season 3, with Liam Hemsworth taking on the role in Season 4. Whether his departure was due to scheduling conflicts or creative disagreements is up for debate, but no matter what, his performance as Geralt has created some mighty big boots for Hemsworth to fill.

Geralt is a witcher, a monster hunter imbued with magical powers. Abandoned by his mother, he was trained at the School of the Wolf in Kaer Morhen, where he was granted special mutations during the Trial of the Grasses, including increased stamina and resistance to poisons. While Geralt can be coldly professional in his job, he is also strong, capable of compassion and humor, and fiercely loyal to those he cares for, as evidenced by his stormy romantic relationship with Yennefer and becoming an adoptive father to Ciri. He's sworn to protect her from evil forces both human and otherwise, and we can't think of anyone else we'd want for that task.